Tomorrow is the next Auckland Transport board meeting. As usual I’ve been scouring through the papers to see what interesting items the reports contain. There’s a bumper crop of information in month, not all of which can fit in this post.
The closed session is where all the interesting stuff is talked about. This meeting’s agenda looks very full
Items for Approval/Decision
These are the items that seem the most interesting
- Agreement Northern Corridor Improvements Project – This will most likely relate to the Rosedale busway station.
- Rail Procurement Update
- Wynyard Quarter Project Update
- Procurement of ETCS Equipment for EMU
- Matakana Link update – This likely relates to a required rethink of the project to bring the costs down
- Integrated Corridor Delivery & Business Case Procurement – I think this will relate to rolling out bus lanes and in some cases bike lanes on a number of arterials
Items for Noting
- City Centre to Mangere LRT Project Update
Here is just some of the things that I found interesting.
Onewa Rd Behavioral Change
AT’s Business Technology and Travel Demand Management teams are running a ‘behaviour change’ trial on Onewa Rd to see if they can get more people on a bus or as part of a T3 car. This has started with trailer mounted LED signs showing travel times.
It will be fascinating to see the outcome of the trial but it’s interesting to see that in the image they include, there are more cars in the T3 lane than the general traffic lane. I also wonder why the PT teams haven’t been running these kinds of trials for years.
Over the last two board meetings, the Business Technology section of the report has been highlighting some of the interesting things AT have been doing with CCTV cameras. In May it was about counting pedestrians crossing the Customs/Quay intersection and cars stopped in the Quay St cycle lane. In July it was using CCTV to identify red light runners (which is separate from enforcement) and cars stopped on rail level crossings. Now they’re using it to identify speeding drivers, again just for analytical purposes.
Speed is a significant factor in road safety. The CCTV Analytics team have confirmed that video analytics can detect the speed of a passing vehicle using a single camera, providing the necessary calibration and fine-tuning of the camera has been done. So far, two trials have been conducted, one at the Whangaparaoa Dynamic Lanes and another one on Fanshawe Street. The team is now working with the Travel Demand Management team to have this solution implemented permanently at a nominated site. The data gathered will be used for analytical purposes only at this stage.
The only thing that’s not clear is how many of these examples are one off tech demo’s to show what’s possible and how many are permanent solutions that will be rolled out across the entire region to assist with decision making.
Smart Streets – Proof of Concept
Following on from the tech demo feel of the CCTV work, they’re also looking at other technology to incorporate.
Auckland Transport want to pilot a ‘Digital Street’ to define, measure and assess the benefits that current and future technology solutions can deliver to the public, AT and other agencies. Smart Streets uses connected technology across the following segments; Energy, Transportation, Data, Infrastructure and Internet of Things (IoT). It is creating systems that can collect and share data that will deliver insights that enable and drive improved public safety, better traffic management and associated cost / efficiency savings.
Project initiation is underway with a workshop scheduled to see what Smart City technology Auckland University is testing in its Innovation Lab. This visit plus other stakeholder workshops will allow us to build out the project scope to determine what Smart Street technology is ready for implementation on the chosen trial street and what is still in development / pending. Smart Assets could include; intersections, street lighting, CCTV, Wi-Fi, digital signage, help points, waste bins, toilets, bus stops, weather sensors, air monitoring devices, parking, and electric vehicle systems.
It’s all very well that they’re looking at some of this stuff but it is concerning if it’s getting the focus when there are so many areas of technology where AT are sorely lacking, such as dreadful to navigate website, their often wildly inaccurate bus real time systems, their HOP processes and many other things.
AT are running a number of projects to understand their customers (the public) better. This includes looking for better ways to improve engagement with communities who often don’t get involved. There is also this stream of work on students cycling:
Customer Central have set up an explore sprint with the University of Auckland Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to look at the problem of understanding ‘Why high-school students don’t cycle to school in areas where it is safe to do so’. The University ‘Solve It’ programme enables AT to provide this challenge to several teams of students at the end of August.
An update on AT’s works around their mobile apps. The number of stops away, as opposed to the number of minutes away, was the best thing about the Track my Bus app and so with it now incorporated into the new app I find it actually usable. It’s also good to see them highlighting some of the things they’re working on for future improvements.
AT Mobile reached the milestone of 130,000 monthly active customers. Feature enhancements:
- The old AT Metro app has been removed from app stores, except for customers with old operating systems. The decommissioning of the Track my Bus app is planned for quarter four 2018.
- New My Stops feature design and functionality
- Faster loading of the app
- Counter of stops when on the journey
Feature enhancements (planned):
- With the completion of the ‘HOP capacity upgrade’ in June, the HOP balance is the next feature planned for release in late September.
- The real-time feed is being enhanced from 30 to 9 second frequency to improve the accuracy of bus and train tracking.
- The first phase of an enhanced ‘disruption’ experience is in development – ‘train line status’.
e-Paper Proof of Concept
AT are trialing e-paper displays for information displays, such as at bus stops for real time info. They say there was strong customer feedback supporting them. As Ruchard Ashurst discovered a few days ago, Sydney is using these too.
Nice. Sydney has electronic boards that use e-reader screens. pic.twitter.com/D1a53VDdqI
— Richard Ashurst (@RichardjAshurst) August 15, 2018
It seems AT are helping Kiwirail with getting funding, presumably for projects such as the third main an/or Pukekohe electrification. Also an update on services from Hamilton.
Auckland Transport and KiwiRail continue to engage with the New Zealand Transport Agency regarding applications for funding via the Transitional Rail activity class. Auckland Transport is likely to be the conduit for funding of activities over the coming financial year whilst longer term arrangements are resolved. The details of this are being worked through.
Staff continue to support the development of an ‘Interim Rail Service’ between Hamilton and Auckland. The Waikato Region has completed a Strategic Business Case, and is liaising with the New Zealand Transport Agency regarding completion of a detailed business case with which to secure capital and operational funding for the interim service. The future role of Auckland Transport in the delivery and operation of the service will be confirmed through the development of the detailed business case. Use of HOP ticketing is being considered.
On the Hamilton services, a later note in the report says they’re targeting October-2019 for introduction. We’re concerned this will be a relatively poorly implemented trial, dumping passengers at Papakura resulting in such a long journey time it will be a failure and set back the idea of inter-regional trains for another decade or more.
Karangahape Road Cycle Route
AT say the project is on track to start procurement in September and for physical works to start in January.
AT received 665 responses on changing Freyberg Square into a pedestrian mall, something they should have been from the start.They say 95% of responses supported the change. It seems the 5% who didn’t support the change used the same old excuses, complaining it will hurt parking on High St. The City Centre Residents Association are pushing for a hearing on it and want a formal road stopping instead of just a pedestrian mall.
Cycle Train at Point Chevalier Primary
Listed under the section on education activities is this piece.
While there are relatively few local road deaths and serious injuries involving young people aged 5 to 16 years on bicycles, parents have a strong perception that it is too unsafe to allow their children to ride to and from school. In line with the Government Statement Policy, AT is exploring ways to encourage active cycling to and from school through training, education and safe infrastructure.
A new cycle train has started for students who want to ride to Point Chevalier School. The cycle train initiative follows a similar set-up to the existing Walking School Bus programme, with AT’s Community Transport team supporting parent and teacher volunteers. To improve safety on the cycle commute to and from school, AT delivered a student riding competency session, a safety workshop for volunteer cycle train parents and provided reflective backpack covers. Approximately twelve 5 – 9 year olds have joined the cycle train, and even on the coldest mornings, not one of the regular riders has stopped biking to school.
The aim is to grow this programme with more students and families running cycle trains. The programme will be targeted to schools in areas where there is new or existing safe cycle facilities and a propensity to cycle.
More kids riding bikes to school can only be a good thing.
The NZTA and Police are looking at trialing point to point speed cameras in Auckland and AT have already suggested two “high-risk local road corridors” be included in the trial.
You may recall we learnt back in May that years of inaction by AT and Police had meant red light camera’s weren’t being used. After that became public, the agencies finally sorted their differences and got them turned on. They say that within three weeks they had issued about 660 infringements, that’s about 31 a day.
There are a lot of bus changes coming up, including some in the South to align with the changes to the rail timetables.
One small comment does have me concerned though “preparation is underway for a value for money (VFM) review of New Network West“. We’ll have to wait to see what this is but it sounds suspiciously like AT are trying to cut bus services to West Auckland under the guise of saving money. Given current government policy around PT, they’d be pilloried if they tried this.
Each report AT detail the major incidents that effect train performance. This one sounds quite concerning and combined with the derailment just over a month earlier, likely left us a few trains down, which would have impacted crowding levels. Good thing we’re getting another batch of trains to help provide more capacity.
An AT Metro service struck a freight locomotive coupler, on the approach to Meadowbank Station on 28 June. The collision caused significant damage to the unit (AM334). The coupler unit joins freight wagons together, or to the locomotive, and an investigation is still ongoing into the circumstances leading up to the event, and how this piece of equipment came to be on the rail network.
It appears ferry timetables could be lengthened and possibly frequencies changed.
Inner Harbour services to Bayswater and Birkenhead continue to be affected by journey time issues and berth congestion, and a proposal is being considered with Fullers to review timetabled journey times to more accurately reflect actual journey times, that may include a review of the frequency for the Birkenhead service.
I think that’ll do for today